Watchdog Group Sues State Over Lifting Brown Act Meetings Law
A local watchdog group is suing the state over a decision that lifts from local governments the mandate to post meeting agendas for the public with three days’ notice.
To save money, the state has told local governments it will stop reimbursing them for the costs of posting meeting notices for three years. Because of another provision of law that prevents the state from imposing mandates without funding them, the action effectively suspends the requirement to post notices.
The state says that will save $20 million a year.
San Diegans for Open Government, spearheaded by community activist Ian Trowbridge, sued the state this week over the matter.
“In the grand scheme of things, the cost of posting agendas is basically zero,” Trowbridge said. “Local government should not be allowed to use an un-reimbursed bill for relatively few dollars to justify doing the public’s business in secret.”
Many local governments have stepped up to say they will still post notices under the Ralph M. Brown Act, which governs public meetings.
“The state’s Brown Act action will not change our agency’s commitment to conducting Board meetings in an open and transparent fashion,” said Jason Foster, a spokesman for the San Diego County Water Authority.
Other sections of the state’s landmark act, adopted in 1953, are still in effect, such as requirements that the public be allowed to testify at public meetings and that an agency hold at least one public hearing before enacting a new tax or fee increase.
The Watchdog surveyed the county’s five largest cities, the county and its office of education, the five largest public school districts, and several special districts to find out if they would continue to ...